Recap

Terry Colby visits Price with a copy of his new memoir, titled The Last Honest Man. He’s still pulling favors for Price and E Corp. He inquires about Price’s ultimate ambitions, and he answers that he wants to always be the most powerful man in the room, and leave a legacy to rival God’s.

Joanna takes Elliot to her apartment and insists that he help her find Tyrell. Mr. Robot is spooked, since this will inevitably lead to her discovering that Tyrell is dead by their hand. Elliot is forced to assist in tracking the mysterious phone calls which Joanna insists are from her missing husband.

Vincent, one of the fsociety newbies sent to D.C. earlier this season, lies severely beaten in Cisco’s apartment after Cisco found him in the smart house. Darlene ponders whether it would be more prudent to let him die, but Cisco shouts her down and demands that they take him to an emergency room.

Dom and the FBI sweep the smart house. Vincent was the only one to make it back here after a destructive car chase from D.C. Dom learns that one of her suspects – Cisco – was seen by a neighbor coming out of the house just hours earlier. Her boss releases his image to the media, initiating a manhunt.

While on the way to buy more computer supplies, Elliot wonders if all his work ended up making the world worse instead of better. At the store, Joanna’s phone starts ringing in Elliot’s pocket, and he hears the breathing of the anonymous caller. He realizes that Tyrell could be behind the calls after all, at which point Mr. Robot disappears entirely.

In the hospital waiting room, Darlene recounts a story of being kidnapped at a young age. Meanwhile, Elliot poses as a detective to get the cops to track the calls to Joanna’s phone. After hearing that Vincent is being stabilized, Darlene and Cisco dip out to get some food. Elliot manages to locate the phone behind the calls, and Joanna’s bodyguard says that it’s somewhere Tyrell would never go.

The FBI break into Cisco’s apartment and confirm his identity. A nurse at the hospital sees his sketch on the news and calls it in.

Elliot meets Angela on the subway. She explains that she knows everything (even more than Elliot can remember, apparently) and that she is going to confess to her role in things. She and Elliot share a somber kiss, but after Elliot leaves, Angela is confronted by two unidentified figures.

Dom realizes that Darlene and Cisco don’t know that Cisco is wanted, and that they’re probably nearby. She finds them eating at a nearby diner and goes in to arrest them, but a Dark Army soldier rides up on a motorcycle shortly thereafter and shoots wildly through the window. Dom rushes out the door after him, covered in someone’s blood.

Analysis

The thing that makes Mr. Robot distinct has always been its carefully cultivated, if off-kilter, sense of order. That close-up framing which shoves a character’s head to the corner of the screen made the show recognizable and iconic from its first episode. But it’s not just the specificity of that cinematographic choice, it’s how specifically odd it is. Wes Anderson movies are similarly distinctive, but the reason they aren’t visually alienating is because they make visual sense, even if it’s a type of sense that a typical viewer isn’t accustomed to seeing. Mr. Robot conveys that same decisiveness, that immediately perceptible filmmaking decision, but it’s not a decision that comes from a universal perspective. It strictly plays by a rulebook, but it’s impossible to reverse-engineer those rules just by watching.

In season two, that same uneasy stability has carried over to the editing, and I didn’t realize it until this episode blew the doors off the whole operation. Part of the reason why this season has felt meandering at times is that episodes were so rigidly segmented. Things would often start to blur together in the climaxes, but even that became part of a recognizable formula. In direct opposition to the show’s visual style, its editing was almost too sensible. This came with its own disorienting effect, of course, in the context of a show like Mr. Robot. I think the sitcom parody from episode six could be read as a statement of purpose for the whole season. Season one is a Rube Goldberg machine, a perfect contraption engineered to come to a single conclusion. Season two is about the death of logic, which for hackers is synonymous with the death of control. In the season premiere, Elliot talked about his “perfect loop” coming undone, and so does the perfect structure of the editing. All of the plotlines in this episode are layered over one another, all happening simultaneously, with that same pulsing score as accompaniment. The cold open bears no immediately apparent relevance to the rest of the episode, and its inclusion of the long-forgotten Terry Colby makes it all the more of a non-sequitur. This is as genuinely surreal as TV has been since at least Twin Peaks, and that’s not a comparison I make lightly.

And it’s not just the editing; Mr. Robot has deliberately destroyed its own iconography through exaggeration. Some of the shots of Price in the cold open feel practically like self-parody of the show’s signature look, and others feel like a deliberate rejection of it. Meanwhile, we have Elliot, who spent most of the season distorting our perception of his reality, begging us to look closer and see what he can’t. Whatever understanding Elliot had of his world, or the audience had of the show’s, is now irrelevant. And, amazingly, there’s still another week left to go in season two. This show has so much more to give.

Etc.

  • The current affairs references abound in the cold open, including the recurring namedrop of FBI Director Comey and a particularly pointed one about Donald Trump (a “cocksucker,” per Colby) and his presidential run.
  • The video game that Elliot sees someone playing in the electronics store is Ubisoft’s Watch_Dogs, a game about a hacker vigilante who seeks revenge against an extremely powerful mob boss for the death of his niece. The game also features a hacker collective called DedSec which bears resemblance to fsociety. It’s a terrible game, make no mistake, but I happen to really love it.
  • My theory about Tyrell was quickly squashed, unfortunately. I’m worried that they’ll leave his true whereabouts as a cliffhanger again, which would suck. The actor is so good, and he’s been dearly missed this season.
  • They also seem to have dropped Elliot’s “glitching” from last week, though Mr. Robot’s disappearance adds its own interesting wrinkle. God knows how they’re going to wrap all this up next week. I wish them the best of luck.

Featured Image: USA Network